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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Dean's Column (July 2015)

Dear Extension retirees,

In June, 12 teams of 4-H youth from nine counties spent three days on the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus for the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge. The new program is part of an effort to excite youth about studying agriculture and pursuing agriculture-related careers by fostering learning opportunities and rewarding youth with college scholarships.

The young people worked with mentors and experts to tackle tough issues, including food waste, topsoil conservation and water quality. The top three teams were awarded college scholarships for the research they presented on biofuels (Le Sueur County), insects as food sources (Washington County) and loss of feed in livestock feeders (Meeker County). Judges and sponsors for the challenge included leaders in Minnesota agriculture and agribusiness. You can read more about the teams that won scholarships on Extension’s news website.

The experience culminated with a two-day event that included a judging event, showcase fair, awards celebration, campus tours, and career networking and workshops. Extension plans to grow this program and reach more youth in the coming years, with help from supporters who can make a gift through the Minnesota 4-H Foundation. Gifts also provide scholarships to many other deserving 4-H youth (see the 2015 scholarship winners list).

To watch videos about some of the participating teams and learn more, visit the 4-H Science of Agriculture website.

Bev Durgan

Connect at a summer Extension retiree luncheon

I enjoyed seeing several of you at the retiree luncheon held on June 17 in Owatonna. It’s always great to learn what you are doing and share the news of Extension. There are two more summer luncheons coming up. I hope the rest of you can make it to one of them!

Twin Cities luncheon, Wednesday, July 29, 12-2 p.m., Midland Hills Country Club, 2001 Fulham St., Roseville

Central/NW Minnesota luncheon, Monday, Aug. 3, 12-2 p.m., Best Western The Falls Inn/Bigwood Event Center, 925 Western Avenue, Fergus Falls

Please RSVP to Wan Tansatit, Extension development office, at (612) 624-7971 or with your name and the luncheon location you will be attending.

Bev Durgan

See Extension at the Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 27-Sept. 7

If you go to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together," be sure to see Extension colleagues, volunteers and participants.

4-H building & barns
See the 4-H State Fair website, or use the free "4-H at the Minnesota State Fair" app for event schedules, Arts-In performance times, results, announcements and maps. Find the 2015 version by visiting the 4-H State Fair website in mid-August.
  • More than 6,000 4-H exhibits and performing arts shows feature the knowledge and skills 4-H'ers have acquired throughout the year. About 2,200 "blue ribbon" kids exhibit livestock in the animal barns.
  • Exciting scientific activities to try in the 4-H building include drones used in agriculture and Rube Goldberg machines. Watch "Chef for a Day" cooking presentations, offered twice daily.
  • Livestock highlights include a 4-H beef exhibit in the Warner Coliseum on Friday, Aug. 28, and the Purple Ribbon auction in the Ag Star arena on Saturday, Aug. 29.
Agriculture-Horticulture building
  • Master Gardener volunteers will answer gardening questions each day, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Watch gardening presentations throughout the day on The Dirt Stage.
  • The Honey Bees program team, including Gary Reuter, Extension entomologist, will show off a "bee beard" on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.
Eco Experience building
  • Gary Wyatt, Extension forestry educator, will present "Natural foods and decoratives from the woods or backyard" on Saturday, Aug. 29 at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the Food Stage.
DNR building
  • Gary Wyatt, Extension forestry educator, will present "Woody invasive species: ID and control" on the DNR stage on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 1 p.m.
  • Jeff Hahn, Extension entomologist, will discuss "Insect Pests of Gardens and Yards" on Sunday, Aug. 30, at 11 a.m.
  • Gary Reuter, Extension entomologist, will discuss "Honey bees, beekeeping and research" on the DNR stage on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 3 p.m.
  • Master Naturalists will be available each day in the wildlife wing to answer questions about wildlife in Minnesota.
Minnesota Public Radio
  • Mark Seeley, Extension climatologist, will appear on MPR's Daily Circuit. MPR broadcasts from the corner of Judson and Nelson. Date and time to be announced.
  • Julie Weisenhorn, Extension horticulturist, and Sam Bauer, Extension turfgrass educator, will be on "Smart Gardens" with host Denny Long on Saturday, Aug. 29. Mary Meyer, Extension horticulturist, and Erik Watkins, turfgrass researcher, will be on the show on Saturday, Sept. 5. Times to be announced.
For a complete schedule, map of University events that will be taking place at the fair (and a new app coming soon!), see U at the State Fair in mid-August.

Responding to emerging issues

As Minnesota continues to deal with the impact of avian flu, Extension is working alongside producers, state and federal officials, University colleagues and many others to respond to immediate needs, conduct vital research, and help individuals, businesses and communities identify next steps.

In May and June, the Extension poultry and ag business management teams worked with producers and industry leaders across the state; 4-H staff responded to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health's directive to cancel all bird exhibitions at county fairs, the State Fair and other gatherings of birds in 2015; and Extension's Center for Community Vitality released an economic impact analysis of the impact of avian flu in Minnesota. You can learn more about Extension's response and see the media coverage on the new Responding to Emerging Issues website.

Leading the way in financial recovery after disaster

Natural disasters wreak havoc on families, and are increasing in frequency. It takes time for survivors to recover emotionally and financially.That's why educators from the Center for Family Development partnered with North Dakota University Extension Service to develop a series of videos entitled "Financial Recovery After Disaster" for disaster professionals and volunteers. Adapted from the disaster recovery toolkit, the videos outline issues that survivors need to address immediately after a disaster occurs. These issues include understanding and finding help for the financial implications, choosing from disaster assistance options, and more. The videos were made possible through a Smith-Lever Special Needs Program grant (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture). Watch the videos or find out more about this project at

New website launched for families

The Extension Center for Family Development has launched a new section of their website. Live Healthy, Live Well is a collection of tools and resources developed by Extension professionals that help Minnesota families make smarter choices about their bodies, homes, children, and futures. From dealing with stress, to eating smarter or developing a health care directive, Live Healthy, Live Well provides quality information in one easy-to-navigate place. Visit the new website at

Source magazine

The Spring-Summer issue of Source magazine is live on the Extension website. This issue of Source showcases creative partnerships and ways of engaging with donors to make an even bigger difference for Minnesota and beyond.
  • Teaching in the garden highlights positive outcomes of Extension's Master Gardener volunteer program that extend well beyond the growing season.
  • Red River Valley Connections tells the story of a top agricultural region and the collaboration with North Dakota State University Extension that keeps the region healthy.
  • 4-H and the Science of Agriculture Challenge shows how Extension is leading the first program of its kind in the country to ignite excitement about agriculture, increase agricultural science literacy and expand the pipeline of youth pursuing agriculture-related careers.
Additional stories introduce the 4-H Alumni & Friends community, share news about Extension's work with aquatic invasive species, explain the value of farm bill education and provide an update on nutrition programming.
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